Jul 18, 2011

Our Time Salvation [Gospel Rest] - A Dialogue between W.M. Mitchell and D. Richardson

Our Time Salvation

Written by W.M. Mitchell

The Gospel Messenger—May 1897

With regard to the controversy that has been going on for some time in several Primitive Baptist papers concerning what is called our “time salvation,” as to whether it is conditional or unconditional, I have not felt, as yet, inclined to engage in the contest.

But I will say this, that during nearly all my re­ligious life I have been trying to learn two short lessons so perfectly that they might abide with me con­tinually, by day or by night, in trouble or in joy.

One is that “salvation is of the Lord,” and the other is “that I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Phil. iv. 13. It strikes me at this moment, while I write, that these two texts clearly set forth the true principles embraced in the whole subject of controversy as to eternal and time salva­tion. That our eternal salvation is wholly and en­tirely of God from first to last, it seems to me, there can be no question among Primitive Baptists. The subjects of eternal salvation are entirely passive in that great and glorious work. They are “without strength.” They are guilty, condemned, and dead in sins. Salvation from all these things is of God. The revealed and written word of God declares this, and the experience of every one who is born of God testi­fies to the same truth.

But now, when one is born of God he is born into the kingdom of Christ and is under law to Christ in His kingdom, and he is commanded to “take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you shall find rest unto your souls.” Our brethren all believe this, but some say here is a conditional salvation, or a conditional rest promised to the obedient one. Well, it is evident that the poor child of God has something to do here in the way of dutiful obedience to find rest, and he has the principle of that obedience written in his heart inclining him to do the very things he is commanded to do, and the very thing that he most de­sires to do. “To will is present with me,” says one, “but how to perform that which is good, I find not.” Rom. vii. What a terrible struggle there is here be­tween right and wrong, good and evil, flesh and spirit!

But here comes in the other little short lesson that I have so ardently desired to learn in my every-day practical life: “I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me.” And here come in the blessed words of Jesus to His disciples, “without Me ye can do nothing.” Ye can neither pray nor sing in the spirit of true worship, preach or do any other Christian duty, only as Christ strengthens you for the work. Salvation is by grace, and grace carries its own conditions and qualifications in itself; it de­mands nothing of its subjects but what it furnishes. It writes the law of the new covenant in the new heart, and puts it in the mind and gives the poor soul a will and desire to do the very things commanded to be done. And when he has done all that is commanded, he is taught by the Spirit and grace of God, as well as by the written word, to feel and say, “we are unprofitable servants; we have done that which was our duty to do.”

And now I feel inclined to say no more on this line at present. I have written in great haste. But let us ever try to keep in memory that “salvation is of the Lord,” and also remember that “we can do all I things” required of us, only as Christ the Lord shall strengthen us for the work assigned to us.


Time Salvation - Again 

Response by D. Richardson

The Gospel Messenger—July 1897

DEAR BROTHER MITCHELL: While lying upon my bed last night I was thinking of you and others, and I felt like I wanted to write you a short letter. Through your writings I have learned to love you for the truth’s sake.

But the subject chiefly on my mind to write now is ‘Our Time Salvation.” You and Elders Chick and Bartley have all written upon the subject, and though you all three are favorite writers to me, somehow I am not quite satisfied with any of you on this point.

Do not time blessings come to us when we do those things that please God? And, on the other hand, does not the chastening rod come upon us when we fail to do them? If so, is not the doing of them the condition? I do not mean that we are our own keeper by the doing of these things: nor do I believe for a moment that any of God’s children can finally be lost or perish. They are kept by the power of God. But consider such Scriptures as, “Take heed unto thyself and to the doctrine; continue in them, for in doing this, thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee.” 1 Tim. iv. 16. I understand this saving to be in no other sense than a saving from troubles that errors bring upon us: but that is salvation, and I can see it in no other light as et but what it is conditional. Another Scripture reads, “Save yourselves from this on toward, generation.” Another says. “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” I notice, in all your writings on the subject, you all speak of those who have lived obedient lives in the church and who have had the sweet fellowship of the church and that you feel to give God all the glory, which, indeed, is right and you feel that you have done nothing (meritorious). Yet dear brethren, you have done what some others of God’s children have not done, viz., you have obeyed the Lord’s commandments while some others have not.

I now think of two brethren who once were lively church members, and I believe they are God’s children. But both of them so gave way to the thirst and influence of whiskey and bad temper that the church cut them off from church fellowship. Both of them seemed to become more and more worldly minded, and one of them so much so as to allow a dance in his house. Now, are such not lost to the gospel rest that they might now have been enjoying had they been obedient? Is this salvation not conditional?

I read in the GOSPEL MESSENGER of May, 1897, a letter from F. M. Hearndon, which also goes far to prove to my mind that his view is correct. He says: “I am now seventy-five years old, and I humbly hope that thirty years ago I was enabled to rejoice, in Christ Jesus as my Saviour, the chiefest among ten thousand and altogether lovely, and this is my only hope yet; but feeling so unworthy, and fearing I might be wrong or mistaken, I never united with the church till last August, when I was baptized into the fellowship of the church at Mt. Paron, Walton county. Ga., and since that time I have enjoyed more than ever before, and have found that rest that is found in obedience —found in wearing the yoke of Christ and learning of Him in obedience we have the application of some of the promises and can claim them as ours.

Dear brethren and sisters, you who are halting and hesitating let me admonish you not to do as I have done, but labor to enter into that gospel rest that remaineth for the people of God, even in this time state. And again, ‘Take heed lest a promise being left you of entering into rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.’ I have come short, but, thank God, I hope I now enjoy that rest.”

I have given the above extract because of its clearness to my mind on the subject. And, my dear and precious old brother, does not this set forth a conditional time salvation or gospel rest, and is it not true? Somehow I am of the opinion that all this seeming difference results from want of understanding each other, but I think all can get to a better understanding of this subject soon.

You can publish this with a reply in the MESSENGER. I hope it will tend to a better understanding on the subject.

Your brother in bonds of love, D. RICHARDSON

Remarks By Elder Mitchell—Most heartily I agree with the sentiment of Bro Herndon ‘s letter front which Bro. Richardson has taken an extract (see MESSENGER, May. 1897), and I also agree with the concluding remarks of Elder Richardson that “all this seeming difference is for want of understanding each other.” It is evidently (in most instances) “strife of words to no profit,” from the very fact that there is no essential principle of gospel truth or doctrine ignored or set aside by the disputants on either side. And why should we make a man an offender for a word when there is no gospel truth set aside or perverted?

I have long believed, preached and written that the eternal salvation of sinners, from sin, death and hell is wholly of God from first to last: and I have also believed, preached and written that there is a peace of mind, a rest of soul and joys of God’s salvation, more fully realized in this present time state by faithful and obedient Christians than ever can be realized in this life by the un­faithful and disobedient. If others think best to express the same thing by the use of the words “conditional” and “time salvation, “ let them do so—I shall not contend about words to no profit, where there is no essential principle of difference involved. But if by the use of an unscriptural phrase such as “Conditional time Salva­tion,” or ‘‘Absolute predestination of all things,” hearers and read­ers are thereby confused and led astray by a strife of words, would it not be better and more in accord with the letter and spirit of the gospel to discontinue the use of such terms and endeavor, if we can, to express tile same truth in words ‘‘easy to be understood by the hearer so that the church might be edified’’ by what is spoken or written?

For many un scriptural terms and phrases which have caused much contention among brethren during this century, no higher authority can be claimed for them than the ‘‘tradition of the fathers,’’ and to continue their use at the sacrifice of peace and fellowship among the saints would be wrong, and possibly might perpetuate a mere human tradition for generations to come. Extremes in either religion or politics are always hurtful, and when once inaugurated, factious parties spring up, heated controversies arise, and in the end there is frequently more strife for the mastery and to obtain a victory over each other than there is to edify or promote peace and unity among brethren.

Another evil is, that if a preacher or writer maintains a calm, unbiased position in the “old paths” of the gospel, and does not fall in line with one or the other of the extremists, and adopt their peculiar manner of expression, he is soon regarded with suspicion and distrust by both parties “Let us search and try our ways, and turn again unto the Lord.” Lam. iii. 4o.—”Take heed to thyself and the doctrine, continue in them; for in doing this (not for doing) thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee.” I believe this and every other text Bro. R. has quoted as fully as he, but may not choose his way of ex­pressing the same truth. Can he bear with me? W. M. M.

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